|Trail Features:||Alpine Lake, Waterfalls|
|Trail Location:||Rising Sun|
|Roundtrip Length:||10.8 Miles|
|Total Elevation Gain:||2180 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||404 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||6590 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||15.16 (strenuous)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||48.69481|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-113.51932|
The hike to Otokomi Lake begins from the Rose Creek Trailhead on the west side of the General Store at Rising Sun. You’ll be following the Rose Creek Trail all the way to the lake on this hike.
For the first third-of-a-mile the trail skirts around the rental cabins at Rising Sun. After construction began in 1940, this area of the park was originally known as the “East Glacier Auto Camp”. Because there were now two locations using the name “East Glacier,” the citizens of Glacier Park Station, where Glacier Park Lodge is located, successfully petitioned the National Park Service in 1950 to have the name officially changed to East Glacier Park. In the fall of that same year the East Glacier Auto Camp was renamed Rising Sun.
Beyond the cabins the trail begins to make a relatively steep climb for the next half-mile. While passing through a fairly dense pine forest, hikers may also notice several varieties of berries, including several thimbleberry patches.
As you proceed higher along the southern slopes of 7935-foot Otokomi Mountain, you’ll begin traveling above a gorge in the Rose Creek valley far below you. Fortunately you’ll have intermittent vantage points that will allow you to see this rather impressive gorge. You’ll also have occasional views of the surrounding mountains throughout this section as well.
Roughly 2.25 miles from the trailhead you’ll reach a series of five waterfalls flowing down Rose Creek. Although you won’t actually pass next to the falls, you’ll still have a nice view from the trail. Beyond this point the trail passes several more waterfalls and cascades, some you’ll be able to see, and others you’ll only be able to hear. Walk another three-quarters of a mile and you’ll reach another sizeable waterfall, one that appears to drop about 30 feet or so. Look for the short side trail that will provide a much better vantage point.
In this same general vicinity the trail begins to pass through some relatively tall vegetation. This is a good place to make a lot of noise in order to avoid a surprise encounter with a bear.
At 4.3 miles the trail begins to open up, allowing you to see your destination towards the left. Look for the deep red rocks in the heart of the cirque at the end of the valley. Sitting in the basin below that cirque is Otokomi Lake.
At 4.8 miles you’ll finally emerge from the forest and into the great wide open. From here the path crosses a large talus field, as well as a couple of avalanche chutes.
Roughly 5.3 miles from the trailhead hikers will reach the Otokomi Lake Campground (which contains three individual campsites). From here the lake is reached by following Rose Creek for another tenth-of-a-mile. This section of trail seemingly passes through some excellent moose habitat. With visibility impeded by tall vegetation, small trees and willows, you may want to be careful through this area so as to not surprise one. We did see a large bull moose about a half-mile below the lake.
There isn’t much of a beach area at the end of the trail, but there is a small side trail that veers off towards the right. However, the best views of the lake are on the left side. Just prior to reaching the lake there is a series of stepping stones that allow hikers to cross the creek. From the left side of the lake the red argillite cliffs will provide the perfect scenic backdrop the lake is most known for.
The lake is named after Otokomi, a part Blackfoot Indian who accompanied George Bird Grinnell on his early expeditions in the Glacier region. Otokomi in the Blackfeet language means "Yellow Fish". Otokomi's English name was Rose, from which the names Rose Basin and Rose Creek are derived.